Years 12-13 students

Reproductive Technologies: An issue for our time

Thursday, 13th March. 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

In 2012 there were 60,860 children born in New Zealand. Each child was the result of successful conception, pregnancy and birth. However conception and pregnancy are not always straightforward.

  • Many conceptions do not result in live births – around 15% of confirmed pregnancies result in miscarriage.
  • A further group of conceptions result in  live births that bring challenges for the parents and the child associated with potential or actual health issues.
  • Additionally we are having fewer children and mothers are older.

The chart below from Statistics New Zealand shows that New Zealand women have 2 children on average. However in the 1960’s the average was 4 children.

tfr-90yrsIn this next chart you can see that in the 1960’s many women were giving birth between the ages of 20 and 29. Now more women are giving birth between the ages of 30 and 39.


Assisted Reproductive Technologies

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a reproductive technology that enables a follicle to be collected from a woman and fertilised  in vitro, before re-implanting into the womb. This technology has enabled many couples who otherwise would not be able to have children, to have a child. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnostics (PGD) is a further technology that allows embryos created via IVF, to be screened prior to re-implanting in the womb. It is used to enable couples at risk of producing embryos with genetic abnormalities the opportunity to have their embryos checked for specific conditions before a pregnancy is established.


In 1978 Louise Brown became the first baby born following in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. Since then more than 5 million children around the world have been born as a result of successful IVF.

In New Zealand, the first IVF baby, Amelia Bell, was born in 1984. The New Zealand based IVF-l’ings web site tells Amelia’s story, and explores the research from around the world in the field of assisted reproductive technologies. Professor Winston was a pioneer in this field. In New Zealand scientists from Gravida, the Liggins Institute and Fertility Associates are actively working in this area of research.

You can read more about these technologies here>>

In the last 35 years, advances in reproductive technologies have provided opportunities for couples to overcome a range of different barriers to reproduction and have a baby. However, these technologies raise a number of ethical and social challenges such as:

  • Who should have access to this technology?
  • Is it ethical to select embryos for specific conditions?
  • What happens to unused embryos?
  • When is it acceptable to use these technologies?
  • Which genetic conditions should we select for or against?
  • Who should pay for such technologies?
  • How does this technology sit with differing cultural and religious beliefs?
  • Who should decide on regulations around the use and development of reproductive technologies?
  • What are possible future developments in this area?



  • Open to students in New Zealand and Cook Islands schools.
  • Write a 500 word blog on the benefits and/or issues associated with Reproductive Technologies.
  • Prizes:
    • Top Bog BLASTS will be posted on the LENScience Connect Blog
    • Top NZ Bloggers will win a trip to Auckland to take part in the expert student panel with Lord Winston on March 13 (see terms and conditions)
    • Top Cook Islands Bloggers will win an exciting prize package (to be announced shortly)
  • Click on the icon to enter the Blog BLAST competition.

 TALKFEST 2014  – Participate ONLINE


  • Participate in our ONLINE audience from your school.
  • Join LiveChat with students from across New Zealand and the Pacific.
  • Take part in the live Q&A with Lord Winston via LiveChat.
  • To take part in LiveChat – make sure your teacher is registered, and the register yourself for LiveChat.
  • Click on the icon to register.
  • On the day, find the LiveChat site here>>

TALKFEST 2014 – Participate in the STUDIO Audience


  • Students can attend the senior TALKFEST at the Fale Pasifika with their school
  • Check with your teacher to find out if your school is applying for seats in the STUDIO audience.




The resource links may provide you with some background ideas for your blog.